- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 01 March 2017
- Written by THE OUTLOOK STAFF
As more and more universities pledge to ‘go green’ in an attempt to save the environment, not much is known about Monmouth’s eco-friendly initiatives.
While sustainability on campus is not usually a major deciding factor when it comes to incoming students, people certainly desire a college that puts forth an effort with regard to recycling and conservation. Much like investing in a quality education, eco-friendly initiatives show prospective and current students, alumni, and parents that the University is making an investment in the Earth’s future.
The Outlook staff believes that MU’s green initiatives are rather mysterious, and no one really understands the process.
“I don’t really know that much about the recycling process at Monmouth, because I haven’t asked or really ever heard anyone talk about it,” said one editor.
Many editors recall seeing the trash and recycling bins being thrown into the same bag when the janitors arrive to discard it.
“It’s obvious that we have different places to throw trash and recycling because they’re usually labeled,” another editor said. “But when the trash is being taken out, I’ve seen both garbage and recycling cans be dumped into the same larger garbage can. So, basically, it’s undoing the purpose of having somewhere to throw trash and somewhere to recycle.”
Other universities around the nation are introducing new initiatives such as campus-wide bans on plastic bags, community gardens, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings, and green cleaning programs.
For example, Stonehill College in North Easton, MA is currently constructing a 15-acre solar panel located across its main campus. When complete, the panel is expected to generate electricity to provide 20 percent of the college’s needs. Other colleges are investing in similar energy reduction projects to lessen their environmental footprint.
“The University does things that you would look for, like having signs to turn off lights,” said one editor. “However, it would be nice to know where exactly the trash and recycling is going because if it does go to the same place, that defeats the purpose and accomplishes nothing.”
Additionally, staff members noted that a large responsibility falls on large corporations on campus to take accountability. Monmouth County is also not able to recycle all plastics.
“Dunkin Donuts cups, for example, cannot be recycled – they’re a different type of plastic that is harder to breakdown,” one editor said. “Therefore, they get thrown into the garbage to then take up space in the already overpopulated landfills.”
The staff agreed that many students on campus simply disregard the respective trash and recycle areas.
“Being that there is a recycling bin with just about every trash can on campus, there should be no reason why people shouldn’t be recycling,” said one editor. “Maybe some people do not know what can and cannot be recycled, so they just throw everything into one can.”
To combat this issue, the staff devised some valuable tips to raise awareness regarding environmental sustainability.
First, MU can become more eco-friendly by not offering as many food products in plastic. It is hard to control what major companies use to package their products, but anything that is made on campus, like salads, could be put in cardboard instead of plastic.
Additionally, there could also be more signs on trash cans that tell students what can be put in each can. It would also be helpful to get students involved with this and create something appealing that might tell them how they are helping by recycling.
“The University could encourage more professors to go paperless. I have a lot of professors who require students to print 20+ page long journal articles for each class,” added one editor. “We do have those ‘keep the future bright’ labels on most every light switch on campus; I think we really are trying.”
More strategies include a campus sustainability office that manages initiatives and projects campus-wide and student groups that promote dialogue and awareness. Others could be investing in technology to reduce, reuse, and recycle, such as reclaimed water systems and compost programs, and involvement in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
“I think overall, we just need to promote the idea more. Or at least become more educated on the topic,” said one editor. “Around campus, I don’t see many flyers or ‘things’ promoting the idea. Not that we necessarily need to be shown to recycle, but if students aren’t that educated on the matter, they’re less likely to do it. Or if they don’t know the consequences, they won’t always follow through.”
For now, the staff will continue their own initiatives to ‘go green’ and help preserve the environment, whether from home or on campus.
“At our apartment we always recycle our bottles, cans, and plastic bags. Our apartment complex is very into separating different types of recycling as well. We are very conscious of recycling,” one editor said.
“There would need to be initiatives taken from administrators in order to bring the issue to the forefront of University conversation,” another editor said. “There could even be a school wide event on Earth Day to get a discussion going among students every academic year, and more signage around campus could be used to promote recycling.”
Whatever initiatives are taken, it is clear that Monmouth needs to make a more conscious attempt to ‘go green’ in the next academic year.